Think about it. How many times have you sent a letter to your favourite brand? Or maybe called in to comment about an advert on a radio station?
I’m going to take a wild guess here, but I’m assuming that if any of our readers did any one of these, then it’s probably an exception rather than the rule.
On the other hand – think of all the times you liked or followed a brand’s page or twitter account. Or maybe when you liked a post by a brand you like, or posted about a great meal you just had at a restaurant you just discovered.
We’ve all done it. As long as we’re connected to the internet, we’re probably connected to brands we’ve learned to love (or hate).
So what’s the difference? Has technology changed the way we communicate? I don’t think so. Technology has just acted as an enabler. It has just made it much easier for us to act the same way we’ve always acted, but removed the geographical barriers.
Now, let’s forget technology for a minute. Think back to the village square. Joe would turn up every day. He’d be part of the conversation. He’d meet Charles and Mary and they’d discuss their problems at work, they’d gossip about people they know, talk about politics and complain about how gruff the village grocer treated them that morning.
Nowadays these conversations still happen, even with a generation who’d never dream of hanging out at the village square. It would happen online – on Facebook groups or specialised forums, on Twitter or in the comments section of the Times’ site.
But let’s go even further back in history first – let’s start at the beginning of the end of personal communication – Gutenberg. His press made it easy for organisations to broadcast. Gone were the days when you’d need someone human to pass on a message. As long as you could read (which was a rarity in his days, to be fair), you could receive a message.
Newspapers, radio and then TV all made this far easier. They made the process of a single person (or organisation) to broadcast. A one to many relationship. OK, someone would call in or be brought to talk on a show from time to time, but in comparison to the numbers of the audience, this was always statistically insignificant.
The dawn of the internet was pretty similar. It was built as an extension to traditional media. Companies would build sites to tell their messages, crafted in the way that they want them to be told.
Somebody could potentially go through the hassle of building a site to tell another side of the story, but this was a major hassle.
Internet 2.0 changed this. The heralding of social media brought about a completely new way of looking at things. People were suddenly no longer just another statistic. People got human faces online. People followed your brand with their human profile, they commented on your posts with human faces attached to the comments.
We are past the age where you choose between B2B and B2C communications. There is only one way of communicating online – and that is H2H (Human to Human).
It is really quite simple: Just remember that your message is going out to a human. It’s not a collection of statistics, another part of a demographic you’re trying to target. Your communication will be consumed by a she or a he. A real human being.
And real human beings want to relate to brands that are human.
Every time I say this to clients I remember the famous scene from Boardwalk Empire: After Nucky Thompson told Gyp Rosetti to not take it personally since it was just business, Gyp quipped: “Everyone’s a person though, right? So how else could they take it, but personally?”.
Yes, everyone is a person – and brands are, at the end of the day, made up of humans. So are audiences.
True, there is no silver bullet solution to achieving a human brand. But the only way for brands to thrive nowadays is by being human in any and all touch points by which they tell their story online.
Over the coming weeks we shall go over the 8 areas we’ve identified as the places brands need to improve to achieve a status that’s truly human.
In the meantime all you have to do is sit back and wait for the next lesson, however, before that I have two tasks for you:
– Send an email to a couple of friends or colleagues who would benefit from the course and ask them to sign up – as they say, sharing is caring 🙂
– Join the Facebook group dedicated to this course – there will be more material posted there as we go along (so we don’t spam you every time we want to share something useful).
– Bonus note – if you haven’t signed up to receive the full set of lessons, you can do so below – and make sure you don’t miss any of them 🙂
Stay tuned: In the next lesson, Ed will tell us much more about how to start working towards a more human brand by understanding what your brand stands for.